Childhood & Early Life
Frank Langella was born on January 1, 1938, into an Italian–American family in Bayonne, New Jersey. His father, Frank A. Langella Sr., was the president of the ‘Bayonne Barrel and Drum Company.’ His mother’s name was Angelina Langella. Initially he attended the ‘Washington Elementary School’ and then joined the ‘Bayonne High School’ in Bayonne.
At the age of 11, he participated in a school play based on the life of Abraham Lincoln and decided to pursue acting as a profession. Thereafter, he moved along with his family and joined the ‘Columbia High School’ in the South Orange–Maplewood School District. He completed school in 1955. In 1959, he obtained a ‘Bachelor of Arts’ degree in drama from ‘Syracuse University.’ He studied acting at the ‘Lincoln Center Repertory Company’ with Elia Kazan.
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Initially, he worked with the regional theater companies in the East coast and the Mid-west. In 1963, he made his debut in the New York theater arena and played a lead role in an ‘Off-Broadway’ revival of ‘The Immoralist.’ His stage performances from 1964 to 1969 were acknowledged with noted theater awards.
He made his ‘Broadway’ debut in 1966, at the ‘Lincoln Center,’ New York, with Federico García Lorca’s ‘Yerma,’ and then, in 1968, he performed in ‘A Cry of Players’ by William Gibson. His performance in Edward Albee’s ‘Seascape’ (1974) fetched him both fame and awards.
In 1970, he made his film debut with a character role in ‘Diary of a Mad Housewife.’ In the same year, he received a bigger role in ‘The Twelve Chairs,’ written and directed by Mel Brooks.
For a major part of the 1970s, he remained occupied with theater and only intermittently appeared in TV and films. In 1972, he co-starred with Rita Hayworth in ‘The Wrath of God.’
Langella played the lead role of ‘Count Dracula’ in the 1977 ‘Broadway’ revival of the drama ‘Dracula.’ His portrayal of the ‘Count’ earned him a lot of appreciation, and the play received more accolades than expected. In 1979, he essayed the same role in the film ‘Dracula.’ However, he had to modulate his performance for the big-screen, and his work did not receive much appreciation. The film was not a commercial success.
In 1993, he was admired as the deceitful ‘Bob Alexander’ in the comedy ‘Dave.’ After this, he essayed character roles in the films ‘Junior’ (1994), ‘Lolita’ (1997), ‘The Ninth Gate’ (1999) among others.
He continued to be a well-admired figure in the New York theater scene. He played the title role in the 1987 ‘Broadway’ production ‘Sherlock’s Last Case.’ In 1987, he essayed the role of ‘Skeletor’ in the film ‘Masters of the Universe,’ and in 1988, he starred in the movie ‘And God Created Woman.’
During the 2000s, he portrayed diverse roles in films such as ‘Sweet November’ and ‘House of D.’ In 2005, he played the role of ‘William Paley’ in ‘Good Night, and Good Luck,’ George Clooney’s historical drama film about broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow. Langella’s performance received rave reviews.
In ‘Superman Returns’ (2006), Langella essayed the role of ‘Perry White,’ the editor of the fictional newspaper ‘Daily Planet.’ He received immense critical acclaim and a lot of nominations for his performance in the 2007 movie ‘Starting Out in the Evening.’
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Langella portrayed the role of ‘President Richard Nixon’ in the drama ‘Frost/Nixon’ (2006) and earned both critical acclaim and awards for his performance. He reprised the same role in the film adaptation of ‘Frost/Nixon’ (2008), directed by Ron Howard. Langella earned excellent reviews and prominent award nominations for this movie too. He later worked in a variety of movies such as ‘All Good Things’ (2010), ‘The Time Being’ (2012 ), ‘Robot and Frank’ (2012 ) among others.
He worked in three episodes of ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ (1993), only because he knew that it would make his children happy. Langella starred with Cameron Diaz in Richard Kelly’s 2009 film ‘The Box.’ In 2011, he worked in Jaume Collet-Serra’s thriller ‘Unknown.’
In a career spanning more than five decades, Frank has experienced many professional upheavals. He once stated in an interview that during the late 1980s, he was unemployed, with a family to provide for, and without any money.
In spite of working in more than 70 films, he is primarily known as a stage actor. In late 2013, he essayed the part of ‘King Lear’ in the play of the same name at the ‘Minerva,’ Chichester, UK.
His forthcoming projects include a comedy series, ‘Kidding,’ in which he features with Jim Carrey. He will also be seen in the sixth and final season of ‘The Americans,’ which is slated to return in March 2018.
Awards & Achievements
Langella won two ‘Obie Awards’ in the category of ‘Distinguished Performance by an Actor’ for his ‘Off-Broadway’ plays ‘Good Day’ (1965) and ‘White Devil’ (1965–1966). In 1969, he received a ‘Drama Desk Vernon Rice’ award for his performance in ‘A Cry of Players.’
He was nominated for the ‘Golden Globe Award’ for the ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ for his debut film ‘Diary of a Mad Housewife.’ In 1975, he won his first ‘Tony Award’ and his second ‘Drama Desk Award’ for his performance in Edward Albee’s ‘Seascape.’ He was nominated for the same two awards for his play ‘Dracula’ (1977–1979)
His work in Strindberg’s play ‘The Father’ (1996) and in the drama ‘Present Laughter’ (1996–1997) fetched him further nominations for the ‘Drama Desk Award.’ Thereafter, he won his second ‘Tony Award’ and ‘Drama Desk Award’ for the 2002 drama ‘Fortune’s Fool.’ He received further ‘Tony Award’ and ‘Drama Desk Award’ nominations for ‘Match,’ in 2004. His performance in Zeller’s version of ‘The Father’ (2016), earned him his third ‘Tony Award’ and ‘Drama Desk Award.’
His portrayal of ‘President Richard Nixon’ in the film ‘Frost/Nixon’ earned him nominations for various awards, such as the ‘Academy Award,’ the ‘Golden Globe Award,’ the ‘Screen Actors Guild Award,’ and the ‘BAFTA.’ He received a ‘Tony Award’ and a ‘Drama Desk Award’ for the drama version of ‘Frost/Nixon’ (2006–2007). With four ‘Tony Awards,’ he has set a record of the most number of ‘Tony Awards’ received by any male actor.
In 2007, he received the ‘Boston Society of Film Critics Award’ for his much-admired portrayal of an elderly novelist in ‘Starting Out in the Evening.’ In 2002, he was inducted into ‘American Theater Hall of Fame.’